The next Rocket Labs mission will include sending-off up to 30 satellites to orbit. The company’s space tug dubbed Kick Stage will be responsible for the liftoff. Onboard will be a 3D printed garden gnome manufactured by Gabe Newell using software from his company Valve. Its mission is testing a certain new manufacturing technique and also Gabe Newell’s philanthropic act. The Kick Stage will apply the deployment method of any space tug. It will detach from the second stage as soon as it reaches a particular orbit. After that, it will deliver the payloads in their respective trajectory.
In a statement to the press, Rocket Lab said that the launch schedule is either September 15 or 16. The venue will be the New Zealand launch site, but it is yet to settle for the name. It is already known for giving its missions weird names, and it confirmed that this time around, it is no different. It will be the most different one. Out of the 30 satellites, the manufacturer of 24 of them is Swarm Technologies. The size of the small SpaceBEEs is similar to that of a sandwich. They are communication satellites designed to provide Internet of Things devices with a low-bandwidth, low-cost network globally.
Onboard is also the Gnome Chompski satellite. Gabe Newell, who is the president of Valve, paid for its passage. The 3D-printed figure will remain undetached from the Kick Stage until a reentry when it burns up. It is similar to the famous PC games series called Half-Life. Its manufacturer is the Weta Workshop. It is an effects studio well known for its amazing work when many films include the Lord of the Rings. For every viewer of the launch, the game industry legend will donate a dollar to the Starship Children’s Hospital. The first spacecraft ever built by students from New Zealand will also reach orbit. The Auckland Space Institute, Unseenlabs, and TriSept will also have satellites onboard.
Rocket Lab is making it easy for small satellite operators since many are times when they compromise orbits when using a rideshare mission. After all, the company gets to customize every mission’s orbit, which is rare with rideshare. The operators no longer have to worry about developing spacecraft propulsion or looking for a third-party space tug, says Beck. That’s a relief since it spares them the agony of complexity, cost, and time. The satellite owners need to deliver the payload, and Rocket Lab takes care of the rest. To prove that sending a satellite doesn’t need to be hard, Rocket Lab has launched its satellite named First Light.