Rocket Lab successfully launched an Electron rocket this afternoon with a new satellite for the Argos program, which provides connectivity to a number of scientific endeavors. It’s a milestone for the company, but more importantly marks — easily — the worst pun ever launched into space. The mission was called “It Argos Up From Here.”
The launch (and increasingly, spacecraft) company has always struck a light tone in its mission names, usually in the form of some in-joke or play on words. I fear this one may represent the zenith, or some would say nadir, of this practice. If there’s a worse pun in orbit, it must be classified.
But to Rocket Lab it is perhaps more important that this launch is the eighth of the year, breaking their previous record for annual launches. Ultimately, as CEO and founder Peter Beck has said many times, the goal is to provide five to 10 times that number, but it’s not an ambition you can take on all at once.
The Argos program is an international one that lets sensors in far-flung places send their data home. It’s often used to track animals in the wild or for other situations where connectivity is uncertain — forests, oceans and so on. While NOAA is one of its chief architects, the system is used by over a hundred countries on a regular basis.
The satellite that went up was built by General Atomics and carries the Argos-4 communications array. It was the only payload on the Electron, which by the way Rocket Lab did not attempt to recover this time. They’re probably in the middle of tweaking the catch-and-recover process after their successful demonstration in May.
This was the 31st launch by Rocket Lab overall, and it has more planned for 2022. One more from their original launch complex in New Zealand, and then the inaugural launch from LC-2 in Virginia — which we hope to attend.
You’ll be able to see Beck in person if you come to TC Sessions: Space in December. Check it out.