Space company Rocket Lab has successfully launched the first satellite that is both developed and launched from their native New Zealand.

Aside from lofting the New Zealand-made satellite, the recent mission also shows Rocket Lab's capability for both developing satellites and sending them to space - a one-stop shop for potential aeronautics clients who can use any or both of those services.

Views from First Light, Rocket Lab's first Photon satellite in orbit
(Photo: Rocket Lab Twitter Account)

Launching First Light

The Kiwi space company, with headquarters in California, has sent the first entry in its Photon satellite family - named "First Light" - through Rocket Lab's 17-meter, or 57 feet, tall Electron rocket.

RELATED: New Zealand Plans To Launch Space Program

FirstLight was included in the fourteenth Electron mission from the Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1, located in the Mahia Peninsula of the South Pacific nation. The Rocket Lab Photon satellite was actually deployed as a part of another satellite mission commissioned by the American space company Capella Space. Capella Space commissioned Rocket Lab's Electron rocket to deploy its own satellite named Sequoia, an Earth-imaging satellite, on August 31, on the satellite mission called "I Can't Believe It's Not Optical."

 Rocket Lab, however, did not declare that the First Light satellite was onboard the same mission. Representatives for the New Zealand space organization only revealed details about the latest Rocket Lab launch, and its additional payload, on Thursday, September 3.

About an hour after lift-off, the 100-kilogram Sequoia microsatellite was launched from the Electron rocket. While this usually marked the end of a standard satellite mission, Rocket Lab was not yet done. The mission control sent a command to the rocket, initiating a Kick Stage - an extra phase that launched the Kiwi space manufacturer's own satellite.

The 50-kilogram, or 110 pounds satellite is reportedly designed for deep-space communications, navigation, and propulsion that can manage multiple restarts on orbit. It was also deployed as a proof-of-concept for power and thermal management.

According to Peter Beck, Rocket Lab founder, and CEO, the fourteenth Electron mission "marks a major turning point for space users," adding that operating a space mission is now easier.

A Full Recovery From "Pics or It Didn't Happen"

The successful launch last August 31 marks the New Zealand space company's first successful mission following its failure last July 4. An Electron rocket also lifted off from the Launch Complex 1, at around 5:19 PM EDT.

While the initial phases of the takeoff were good, the Electron rocket's approach to the "max-q" or maximum dynamic pressure started showing deviations from previous launch data. Close to six minutes after liftoff, its onboard video started freezing. Another minute later, the company webcast declared: "Initiating mishap response plan."


The issue was identified during the second stage burn process. Rocket Lab failed to get into orbit and lost its payload - chief of which was the CE-SAT-1B, Canon Electronics' 67-kilogram (about 148 lbs) imaging satellite. The launch was arranged by Spaceflight Inc.

Another payload in the thirteenth Electron mission was the Faraday-1, a six-unit CubeSat from British company In-Space Mission, as well as five SuperDove from American imaging company Planets.

Check out more news and information on Rocket Lab on Science Times.