Rocket Lab has successfully launched a US military satellite in its first mission since its 20th Electron launch ended up in failure back in May. The company's Electron rocket made its way to space from its New Zealand launch site, carrying a small demonstration satellite from the US Space Force called the Monolith. Peter Beck, Rocket Lab founder and CEO, tweeted shortly after the event that the payload was deployed and praised the team for a "flawless" launch.
Monolith's target location is in low-Earth orbit around 370 miles above our planet. The satellite will demonstrate the use of a deployable sensor, "where the sensor's mass is a substantial fraction of the total mass of the spacecraft, changing the spacecraft’s dynamic properties and testing ability to maintain spacecraft attitude control," Rocket Lab explained in the official mission webpage. The results from the demonstration will help companies build more affordable satellites within shorter timeframes.
Rocket Lab's 20th mission failed in May when it suffered an "anomaly" after the second stage ignition. The company lost both its Electron rocket and BlackSky's Earth observation satellite payloads as a result of its second launch failure within the span of a year. After investigating the issue, Rocket Lab determined that the root cause was a problem with the second stage engine igniter system that "induced a corruption of signals within the engine computer." The company says it has since implemented fixes "to prevent any future reoccurrence."